Laser Pointer Aimed At Cockpit


Laser Pointer Attacks Targeting Military Pilots On Rise In Middle East

August 17, 2018 - 3:18 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) -- U.S. military pilots reportedly are dealing with more and more attacks using laser pointers in the Middle East.

Citing officials from the U.S. Air Force Central Command in Qatar, the Wall Street Journal reported there were 350 laser attacks targeting pilots in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan over the first seven months of 2018. In 2017, there were 400 altogether for the year.

“It’s all part of this organization inside the Middle East to go after American pilots in a cheap and easy way. They could get these quick handheld lasers – it’s hard to detect where they come from – and they can cause serious damage to pilots’ eyes, as well as potentially crash these aircraft,” said CBS News Military Analyst and retired Army Maj. Mike Lyons.

Headlines have been appearing for several years about laser pointers being aimed at helicopters and commercial aircraft. The same style of laser pointers are being used to target the military pilots, Lyons said.

“The same, and in fact, in the civilian world, the rate is much higher. The FAA reports anywhere from 2,000 to 2,500 incidents a year. But it’s just in the combat zone where the reports are made,” Lyons told WCBS 880’s Pat Farnack. “They sometimes don’t have the right equipment now to combat them. “

There have not been any crashes involving military planes targeted by laser pointers so far, Lyons said.

“What we want to try to do is pinpoint where they’re coming from. But the pilots want to report the lasers as opposed to trying to make sure they can use this as a way to get the kind of technology there to find both where they’re emanating from as well as making sure that they don’t cause those kind of crashes going forward. They’re used as after action reports to other pilots,” he said.

The technology to protect pilots could include a coating on their visors and on the windshields that would seek to deflect the lasers. But Lyons noted that pilots need to be able to see many kinds of light while flying, and any technology to deflect lasers mustn’t interfere.